Tiptoeing Towards the Trave

By the way, there are a number of coloured hyperlinks embedded in this postcard - we hope you will click on them and find them interesting

This pic of Faroe bridge borrowed from Panoramio

The day after the pop concert at Vordingborg, we rolled out of bed (at the second attempt) around 8am, since we had some decisions to make about the course for the day. During the night, the stiff westerly breeze had moderated a lot and the forecast was for it to go around to the south during the day. The decision was between three possible passages to Travemünde: a) go west and then south (quite a lot further), b) go east and then south, or c) go a little way west and then take a narrow and shallow route to the south via Nykøbing and Guldborgsund. The conditions were much lighter than expected, so we decided to take the shortest route, which allowed us to set the cruising chute for quite a lot of the trip.

The departure was late, around midday, because we wanted to send the postcard on the internet while we had a broadband connexion, and the brains weren't working that fast after all that music, danish beer and nightcaps. Fortunately, we were not aground in the marina, unlike the guy next to us who had a difficult time leaving. We tiptoed out along the shallow approach channel, and across several sandbanks to get to the main lead out under the bridge at Farø. Bob gybed us, under cruising chute and mizzen, from side to side down Gronsund, trying to pick up the best of the light westerly breeze, which finally gave up altogether as we emerged into the main part of the western Baltic.
There was a good breeze, but none of these generators were turning
A few minutes motoring brought us to the new wind, which was from the southeast, so we then had a motor-sail down to Gedser on the southern tip of Falster, eventually being able to cut the motor as the breeze strengthened. The marina was tucked up around the tip of the island on the western side, the large windfarm of 72 non-rotating turbines making a nice sight in the sunset, and we sailed all the way round, past the dredger and spoil-barge under tow, and right into the marina before getting Perkins going again. Looking south from Gedser
The boat in the end berth in the marina was that of a german couple we had assisted in berthing in a strong breeze in Kalvehave, the day before, so he joined some other guys in helping us position ourselves between stern-piles and pontoon - this time achieved with a certain amount of aplomb, having had a difficult time in Kalvehave. We celebrated our arrival with a fine roasted gammon and all the veg.
For the first half of the night, the wind got stronger, and, as it was forecast to go around to the south, we were a bit worried about our southerly passage across the traffic lanes for the morning.
Missed that one
That one tooHowever, by the time we left in the morning, it had eased down to force 2 and backed easterly again; having put the remainder of Bob's danish paper money into the diesel pump and withdrawn a measly amount (at 9.7 DKr per litre, almost 90p), we set off under spinnaker, mizzen and Perkins. As it was good visibility and a calm day, we had no problems in the shipping lanes and dodged all of the big ones satisfactorily.

Save that diesel

It was a lovely warm day, and we rolled up all the sidescreens to get as much air as possible. Getting bored with Perkins, we also tried flying a bit of extra canvas in front as the wind went astern.

As we drew nearer to Neustadt, the German port where we were planning to stay the night, the wind picked up a bit and backed a bit further, making it a possibility for us to make it to Travemünde directly. We decided that flexibility was the essence of every good plan, that it was a lovely evening, and that Travemünde looked every bit as close as Neustadt. So we gybed the sails and settled down on port tack, heading towards the huge towerblock hotel that marks the entrance to the Trave river.
Travemunde approach

The Passat - click to enlarge
We passed the sand-sculpture park on the eastern bank into the river with the sail still pulling nicely, and soon the ghosts aboard the 4-masted barque "Passat", (now a floating museum, but once one of the "Flying P's" of the great grain races), nodded approval as we sailed by.

Pile moorings at Travemunde
Our third berthing between piles went even more smoothly and soon we were climbing outside the largest of the four sizes of beer you could order in this particular keller. The guy on the neighbouring bar stool was a Dane who had escaped from his wife and mother in the next door hotel for half an hour, so he joined us in a round of schnaps to celebrate our arrival in our third country of the cruise. As we rejoined Voltair, night was falling as we motored upstream to find our first "wild anchorage" of the week along the river. All along the riverbank, the bars and shops, the boats and the streetlights were all lit up. Police and a huge ferry
The immense ferry taking up 50% of the river in front of us gradually extinguished most of these lights as it glided in our direction, the bulbous bow lifting a great mound of water in front of it. A river-police RIB, with blue flashing light, approached on our port side to guide us away from the monster, but we were already scuttling for the starboard bank before he got to us. As we got further up the river, we realised that 10pm must be a favourite time for departing, as a succession of large ships glided past in the gloom.

We decided to anchor somewhere they couldn't reach, so turned left into the old "East Germany" and anchored near the nature reserve and out of the area marked on our chart "reede" (plus a load of german I couldn't translate, but I assumed meant "don't damage the reede by anchoring here"). We put up the anchor light, got the stove going for our 'back-passage stew' and poured a few drinks, then - blow me down - here comes the blue flashing light again! Did they want to see our passports, the boat papers, or conduct a search for danish bacon? "Guten abend, officer!", I began, cautiously. "Hallo Sir", came the reply, "You have anchored incorrectly". "What's the problem, officer? I have lit my anchor lamp and kept out of the reede." (You can tell when I'm speaking to a foreigner) "You should be anchored IN the reede, and you are not! Also you are too close to the nature reserve." I explained my problem with the translation of the chart, my concern about damaging the reede, and disputed his estimate of our distance off the shore. "But you are still in the wrong place", he chided. "As we are only here for a few hours, shall we say that we have a very long anchor chain, and that the anchor IS in the reede?" "Ach - that is a good solution - sleep well, gute nacht!". And so Voltair's entry into German waters was (perhaps) noted in his log.

Another one wanting more than half the river

The next morning the wind had done a 180 and was now blowing strongly from the west. The anchor winch being on the sick list, Dave and Bob hauled the very long chain, recovered a nice clean anchor free of reede, and then We motored cautiously back towards Travemünde to fuel up, dodging yet more huge freighters.

Here the fuel was an eye-watering €1.26 per litre, which sounded awful, but was actually 10% cheaper than Denmark. Then, while Jane and Rachael cooked eggy bread and made sandwiches, we motored the 6 miles up the River Trave to Lübeck, past moored yachts and sandy beaches with picnic and barbeque spots.

Des res or two

On the southern bank, a small community, with their assorted boats and a group of thatched houses under a treelined ridge, snuggled in a bay behind a screen of reeds. A family of swans with four fluffy grey cygnets swam at the side of us, and a rowing four struggled to keep rhythm into the stiff breeze.

Final berthing

Soon we were at our destination, at Teerhofsinseln and looking for the Nord-Ost Marina. Packing up went smoothly until we discovered a nut missing off an important clamping bolt on the alternator, making it impossible to tension the belt, and causing the hesitancy in registering the rpm after starting up. I couldn't leave Robin with this task to do on arrival, so Bob and I set to and made a new bolt fit the clamp, since we couldn't find the nut, which must have come off and dropped into the bilge. Thus we managed to take an extra hour in shutting the boat down, while the girls and David waited patiently in the boatyard. The taxi arrived and we were off to Lübeck central station, to see the sights for a couple of hours before it was time for the airport. Strangely, the left luggage lockers are on the platforms at Lübeck station, so we carted all our stuff down, stowed it, and emerged much lighter and ready for a beer and lunch, with sight-seeing too if we had any time left.

Lubeck's Holstentor & city skyline

Lübeck is a pretty historic town. That's to say, it has a lot of history, and also manages to be very pretty. It was the chief city in the Hanseatic League back in the 14th century, when many of the heritage buildings were built. "The Hansa", as the organisation was known, was the EEC of its day, a trading community stretching from Holland to Estonia, and lasting for 300 years. In the early days, the main commodities traded through Lübeck were salt and salted fish, and some of it's most famous old houses are called the Salt Cellars.

Adolf Hitler did not like Lübeck much. The city council stopped him giving an election speech in the town in the '30s, so he gave it instead in the nearby small village of Bad Schwartau. Thereafter, he always referred to Lübeck as "the small city near Bad Schwartau".

Pils by the canal

We found an excellent restaurant called the Yachtzimmer and sat on chic new outdoor furniture on the other side of the street by the canal, where tourists passed by in large low motor boats or canadian canoes (à choix), and pretty girls strolled past in their figure-hugging threads. Beer was consumed, along with carpaccio of beef, pork loin jagerart, a large tuna salad, some red wine, and some more beer - this time a brown one. We didn't blow away, though most of the beer-glass doilies did. We scarcely had time for one church and an icecream before it was time to taxi to the airport.
Passat under sail - a painting in the Yachtzimmer

Lübeck is definitely worth a visit if you haven't been there already.... maybe we should get a percentage from Ryanair for the plug - they call it Hamburg, but then they aren't much good at geography.

Robin is off to Travemünde in a few days - do you think I should tell him he is heading straight into the second biggest sailing regatta in the Baltic?

Best wishes from Rachael, Jane, John, David and Bob, now back in UK and fighting the floods rather than the tides.

Our track: If you click on this link, you can download the track of the yacht over the last week, from Copenhagen to Lubeck. This will probably open in your browser as a load of numbers - DON'T PANIC - save the file on your hard drive in a convenient place, with a suitable name (it will prompt you to use dkjktracks.kml), and then when you double-click it, it should automatically load Google Earth (assuming you already installed it) and superimpose our track on the globe. Then you can zoom in and see exactly where we've been! (Not sure I like the sound of that).

To go to Voltair's new "Homepage", where you can catch up on the postcards that the cat knocked off the top of the piano, click here.